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Thread: How do Ericsons compare.....

  1. #1
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    How do Ericsons compare.....

    On several websites like Sailnet (but I always check this site first!! ), there are frequently comparisons of various boats in terms of construction quality and performance. Because Ericsons aren't on everyone's radar screen, they are not frequently included in these comparisons.

    When I was looking to buy my third boat earlier this year, not having owned an Ericson previously, Ericson was at the top of my list, followed by Aloha, C&C, Catalina and Newport. Fortunately, I did find a good Ericson 30+ at a decent price and was able to buy my #1 choice.

    I am very pleased with the boat, but still wonder how an "objective" expert would compare the quality of Ericsons with other leading models. Anyone have any views on this, with more detail than "obviously Ericsons are best" I'll look forward to your comments, especially if you can substantiate your opinion with details, experiences, etc.

    To begin the discussion, I put the Ericson at the top of my list because I think the triaxial grid provides more hull strength than many other boats, the quality of the fibreglass lay-up seems stronger than most, they seem to have less blistering/osmosis than some, the woodwork looks well made and the layout seems functional. Since owning ours, I can add that the performance seems very good (my 30+ sails much like the Bavaria 34 we chartered a couple of years ago--fast, responsive, but solid).
    Comments?

    Frank.

  2. #2
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    All the points you make are correct. Ericsons are very stoutly built. The grid system combined with the fiberglassing of the deck to the hull makes for a very strong structure. Stronger than most production boats. They compare very well with the higher end production boats of their time and today. I would say pretty comparable to C&C, CS, Tartan, Niagara, Nonsuch, etc. They are a step up from Catalinas, Hunters, Irwins, etc. Jack Horner and other industry notables have been very kind in their reviews of Ericsons. It is pretty hard to find a problem with an Ericson that has to do with faulty design or poor constuction. They are an excellent value since they often sell for Catalina or Hunter prices simply because they are lesser known. RT
    Rob Thomas
    Wakefield, RI
    1983 Ericson E38 "Ruby"
    "I purchased a boat because setting fire to $100 bills was not an efficient enough way to dispose of them...."

  3. #3
    Principal Partner Chris Miller's Avatar
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    Guest was asking...

    A guest on our boat was asking a similar question about what kind of price/quality range our boat would fall into if it were newly built today. It took us about 1/2 hour to finally fall on 2 boat manufacturers currently in production. We agreed that C&C was the most likely candidate (with Outbound a close second). Good quality, limited build, very fast, reasonable price. We felt that Tartan was really a stretch since a big (37) new Tartan will set you back at least a half million.
    We have started to explore the market for our next boat which will be the retirement boat, we are really nervous about finding a boat that handles anywhere close to ours, but still has all the necessary elements we are looking for. We'd prefer not to have to tack through 105*

    Chris
    Chris Miller :cartmann:
    S/V [I]Sequoia[/I]
    1988 38-200 Hull #262
    [URL="http://svsequoia.blogspot.com/"]http://svsequoia.blogspot.com/[/URL]

  4. #4
    Accelerant CaptnNero's Avatar
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    Ericson vs Pearson

    At the time (1999) we bought our E32-200, we were looking at late 80's cruising boats with the modern aft cabin layout. We rejected a similar vintage Pearson 33-2, which LOA was really shorter than the Ericson. However, the Eriscon weighed in at 9800 vs 11,200 for the Pearson. That was a strong factor in picking the Ericson for our Chesapeake needs.

    We also liked the Ericson joinery and cabinetry with the mesh coverd arched doors, and the touch of teak on the stern pulpit. Quickly eliminated were lower quality boats: Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, and Endeavour. Some other late 80's boats looked good in Mauch's but were simply in short supply, like Sabre or out of our price range so we didn't even study the layouts. The early 90's PSC Ericsons and other breeds were too pricey so that pushed us into late 80's when the aft cabins came in.

    Five years later we were starting to feel like we were out growing the 32, but this time we were already sold on the late 80's Ericson. I liked the LWL on the late 80's E34 for the money too. We looked at an '88 38-200 which we thought was a great boat, but for the 30-50% price difference the E34 seemed a better value for us as cruisers. The one thing I would appreaciate inside is the E38's U-shaped port settee instead of the E34's L-shaped one. The rest of the extra space went to the vberth and a separate shower stall. I've been using wet baths in RV's and boats for so long that not having a shower stall just doesn't matter anymore. The 38 with an LOA of about 3 feet more than the E34 does comes off with that sleeker thoroughbred look. You get half of that extra three feet in LWL. Going from the E32-200 to the E34 you get two feet LOA but three more LWL.

    Off the subject I will mention that going from the E32-200 to the E34 was easy since almost everything was in the same place and it fit in the same slip. So in addition to paying a lot more for an E38-200, we'd be paying a lot more on a slip. Not good was having the same motor as the E32-200 which runs fine but is under powered on the E34 at 13,500 displacement. It's an M25XP. We don't know the hours on it after 18 years but it probably is in the neighborhood of low 1000's, so I expect that will last us a long time at 70-80 hours per year. I added an hour meter early on our E32-200 so I know our usage well.

    Lately I've heard from a very reliable source that the late 80's 200 series Ericson's were specifically designed as being "f&!#able" too, but I was not made aware of that feature at the time of purchase.
    Last edited by CaptnNero; 08-17-2006 at 07:31 AM.
    -- neal
    S/V KOKOMO
    '88 E34 #253
    Get there fast and take it slow

  5. #5
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    I'd say that my limited experience with Tartans and Ericsons probably supports the comparison of those two builds when comparing the same vintage, but to compare Ericson with the Tartan boats of today seems like a stretch. Tartan is the only production builder I know who is using epoxy layup, carbon fiber rigs as standard, and other similar advancements not yet predominating in the production (or even semi-custom) boat-building industry. Granted it's a different era now than when Ericsons were built, but do you think Ericson was as cutting edge as that in it's own time?

  6. #6
    Principal Partner u079721's Avatar
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    IF we are comparing boats that were all made in the 80s, then I would rank Ericsons with Tartans and CCs and Sabres (though perhaps just a bit below Sabre), but above the next rank of Catalinas, Irwins, Hunters, and the like.

    In the last couple of decades Hunters have actually improved to the point that I would consider owning one, while Tartans and Sabres have gotten so much more expensive that it is amazing. Which, as mentioned above, is why it doesn't make sense to compare our older Ericsons with today's Tartans - but they compare very well with the older Tartan 37s (a very nice boat).
    Steve Christensen
    Twin Cities, MN
    Former Owner of Rag Doll
    1989 Ericson 38-200
    Hull Number: ERY38318C989
    Universal M40

  7. #7
    Accelerant CaptnNero's Avatar
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    Hunter rallies

    Quote Originally Posted by u079721 View Post
    IF we are comparing boats that were all made in the 80s, then I would rank Ericsons with Tartans and CCs and Sabres (though perhaps just a bit below Sabre), but above the next rank of Catalinas, Irwins, Hunters, and the like.

    In the last couple of decades Hunters have actually improved to the point that I would consider owning one, while Tartans and Sabres have gotten so much more expensive that it is amazing. Which, as mentioned above, is why it doesn't make sense to compare our older Ericsons with today's Tartans - but they compare very well with the older Tartan 37s (a very nice boat).
    I forgot to drop Irwin in the lower quality group.

    When I was looking Olson and Oday weren't in supply in the region so I did not look into them.

    I have heard some more positive remarks from marine professionals about Hunters lately, but nothing specific.
    Last edited by CaptnNero; 08-17-2006 at 02:16 PM.
    -- neal
    S/V KOKOMO
    '88 E34 #253
    Get there fast and take it slow

  8. #8
    Principal Partner Shadowfax's Avatar
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    Philosophical Discussion

    As this is becoming a philosophical discussion I feel the need to add my impressions. I agree that trying to compare 80ís vintage Ericsonís to todayís Tartanís, Saberís etc. is unfair and impractical. So much has happened in the 20, or so, years since our boats where designed, in materials, design, construction and what the client wants, that we are almost talking about two different eras in yacht design.
    So if we keep the 80ís as a design and build line to compare our boats, I equate Ericson with the likes of Pearson, Bristol, Saber, C&C, etc.. As for my personal preferences, we bought our boat new in í88 after looking at almost every boat on the market at the time. For us it came down to a final cut of Island Packet, Pearson, Ericson, Catalina. The IPís where/are beautiful and bullet proof and made for cruising. They almost need 15 knots of wind to begin to sail them and they where too expensive for us. Pearson was just about to go out of business and had designed their 34 interior to look like a disco gone nautical and it was even know at the time as the whore house Pearson. I loved the design but just couldnít do the interior. The Ericson was, need I say more, quality, layout and price that gave the most for the money. The Catalina was a nice boat, but if you where at the boat show and went from an Ericson to a Catalina, there was no comparison and the dollar difference didnít make up for it.
    It is amazing how much larger our 34 has become since the kids have grown up, but if I was to buy another bigger boat Iíd be hard pressed to choose between a E38 and a Pearson 39 and I thing the Pearson 39 might win out; but like I said, the old 34 has got a lot bigger latelyÖ.. and itís paid for.

    Paul Raywood
    s/v Shadowfax
    1988 E34 #257
    Rock Hall, Maryland, Home Port
    New Hope, Pennsylvania, Home

  9. #9
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    Thanks for the replies so far--very informative. I agree with several of you that it makes sense to compare our Ericsons to boats of that same vintage, ie. 1980s, rather than to boats being built today.

    But I'd also like to follow up on two areas: firstly, although the Aloha was second after an Ericson in my top five possible picks, no one has commented on them at all--is there a reason for that? 2) I came close to buying a Catalina 30, as they are popular and readily available, and would be interested in more details as to why several of you are consistently rating them far below Ericsons. (The Catalina 30 was last on my list of possibles, and I'm a bit biased against them compared to Ericsons, so would appreciate some more "objective" views).
    Thanks,
    Frank.
    Last edited by Frank Langer; 08-17-2006 at 03:05 PM.

  10. #10
    Contributing Member II Jeff Meier's Avatar
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    Catalina 30..

    well Frank you asked specifically about this so i'll chime in with my experience. my pervious (first) boat was a catalina 30 and i thought it to be good at the time to learn on and bounce off the dock a few times without much care (which i did). i bought it for probably the same reason everyone else that has/had one did; they're roomy, inexpensive, and without much experience you would think they sail great. compared to an Ericson the build on a catalina 30 is crap. the cabinets looked cheap and the jointery wasn't that good. when i would get a flashlight and look into the nooks and crannies of the boat i would get sick becase of how sloppy the assembly was, like how the cabin liner was mated to the hull, etc. and there is a huge difference in sailing, the catalina 30 was like a tank compared to my 32-3. One good thing i will say about it is that it sold the day it was put on the market as there is a demand for it.

  11. #11
    Principal Partner u079721's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Langer View Post
    Thanks for the replies so far--very informative. I agree with several of you that it makes sense to compare our Ericsons to boats of that same vintage, ie. 1980s, rather than to boats being built today.

    But I'd also like to follow up on two areas: firstly, although the Aloha was second after an Ericson in my top five possible picks, no one has commented on them at all--is there a reason for that? 2) I came close to buying a Catalina 30, as they are popular and readily available, and would be interested in more details as to why several of you are consistently rating them far below Ericsons. (The Catalina 30 was last on my list of possibles, and I'm a bit biased against them compared to Ericsons, so would appreciate some more "objective" views).
    Thanks,
    Frank.

    I've only ever seen two Aloha boats - a 28 and a 34. But they were both very good looking solid boats. Seemed a lot like Island Packets, a bit overbuilt and undercanvased for the Great Lakes, but very well made. I don't think they are common enough for most folks outside Canada (where they were made) to have much of an impression of them.

    As for the Catalinas, I think a Catalina 30 is a fine coastal cruiser. I see dozens of them every summer while cruising the North Channel, and they do fine duty. But they are built much more to a price than Ericsons, and do not give the impression of being nearly as seaworthy (not to mention the quality of joinery and cabinet work and such). When crossing Lake Huron at night I really liked the feeling of being aboard my Ericson, knowing the quality was there, and that I would give out way before the boat ever would. With the Catalina it might be a draw to see who gave out first.

    But hereabouts most folks never sail in more than 4 ft seas and 20 kts, and if that's all you see, the Catalina is fine.

    And we haven't even mentioned Endevours, or Beneteau, or Jeanneau (or however the hell you spell them).
    Steve Christensen
    Twin Cities, MN
    Former Owner of Rag Doll
    1989 Ericson 38-200
    Hull Number: ERY38318C989
    Universal M40

  12. #12
    Accelerant CaptnNero's Avatar
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    the classy factor

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Langer View Post
    ...
    But I'd also like to follow up on two areas: firstly, although the Aloha was second after an Ericson in my top five possible picks, no one has commented on them at all--is there a reason for that? 2) I came close to buying a Catalina 30, as they are popular and readily available, and would be interested in more details as to why several of you are consistently rating them far below Ericsons. (The Catalina 30 was last on my list of possibles, and I'm a bit biased against them compared to Ericsons, so would appreciate some more "objective" views).
    Thanks,
    Frank.
    We looked at a few Catalinas, but wanted a wooden cabin sole and more classy looks overall. The Cats had the roomier feel inside but that wasn't so important with just the two of us and very occasional guests.

    We did look at an Aloha before seeing any Ericson. We independently rejected the Aloha cabinetry, having already had an '87 Pearson 27 for two years. So it was so long Aloha without even looking at the specs. A few days later the broker dug up the Ericson 32-200 based on our desire for better interior finish, and that was it. We instantly knew the Ericson was right for us, and more so than the Pearson competition.

    The sea trial on the E32-200 was very favorable conditions and performance even with worn out running rigging was impressive for an 11 year old cruiser.

    A few years after that the broker offered a fire sale on a clean Pearson 39. I went to look at it from outside. I noticed that the same teak toerail that looked so good on the P27 looked disproportionately small on the P39, so I did not look further. Besides it was about $100K and I'm still not ready to go there. Maybe we will on a retirement boat, but in the meantime I'm assuming our E34 IS the retirement boat.

    For our Chesapeake gunkholing the interior seemed important. We'd done enough gunkholing before the E32-200 that we knew we wanted a pleasant and classy feel when we were sitting around on anchor in the evenings.
    -- neal
    S/V KOKOMO
    '88 E34 #253
    Get there fast and take it slow

  13. #13

    Comments on Ericson quality

    There is an interesting discussion going on at SailboatOwners.com about quality issues on the E-29 boats. Some controversial opinions on Hunter quality vs. Ericson, and why Ericson went out of business.
    http://www.sailboatowners.com/forums...abr=as&fno=122

  14. #14
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    There is a important point to remember here. All the boats mentioned here have merit in some way. Some are better than others but often the difference is really quite small when it comes to actual use given the fact that almost all sailboats are used for daysailing, weekending and coastal cruising. Its nice to know that Ericson and others are built well enough to withstand some heavy use. This is not always neccessary. A buddy of mine just bought a '84 Hunter 34. He just about stole it it was so cheap. The PO just wanted out. Look around for a boat that satisfies your needs but don't wait so long for that "special" model that you miss out on sailing. RT
    Rob Thomas
    Wakefield, RI
    1983 Ericson E38 "Ruby"
    "I purchased a boat because setting fire to $100 bills was not an efficient enough way to dispose of them...."

  15. #15
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Wink more upsupported opinions

    No wrong or right answers in this thread, but a nice input of boating philosophy. Fun reading!

    As to how much built-in strength is enough, I would agree that all the low end production hulls can keep out the sea water just fine. Problem is that sometimes you come in contact with harder things.

    Case in point: several years ago I visited the yard when they were preparing to do a spendy insurance repair on a 90's-era Hunter 30. The boat owner had, for whatever reason, T-boned the side of a 34 foot Chinook (a sixties era production fiberglass boat, built very strongly by any standard).
    Bear in mind that the bow is, by any engineering definition, the strongest point (!) on any boat. The broadside is the weakest.

    When I peaked into the bow through the perfect-shaped cut-away opening that exactly resembled the side deck-edge profile of the other boat, I could look closely at the layup -- a layer of cloth/roving under the gel coat, then a crumbling layer of plastic material like "cottage cheese' for about 3/8 of an inch, then a layer of roving on the inside.

    Since the hit was above the waterline, there was no great ingress of water, and so no water damage to the interior.
    I found out that the other boat did lose the rig because the shroud was severed, but its hull and the deck joint was unharmed.

    Now we all know that in protected waters the engineering of all the Hunters and their ilk is just fine for day sailing and "gracious dockside living" as I like to call it. These boats are perfect for knowledgable owners who know their personal needs and the limitations of their craft.

    Many folks believe that the Catalina's are stronger than the Hunters, and would put the Jeaneau and Benateau in there, too.
    Without some sort of crash-testing like they do for cars, we will never have much hard data.

    I have made many near-shore passages in nice weather, in the summer, on all these brands, that were well prepared by thoughtful owners.
    Given my druthers, though, I prefer an Ericson, Olson, Valiant, or Cascade, Saber, or similar...

    Worthless Opinions rendered on the hour -- deposit $.01 please!


    Another way to view the situation: people who seek out Tartans, Ericsons (or Olsons) or Valiants are just trying to move the odds a bit closer to being in their favor...


    "Live long and prosper"

    Loren
    Last edited by Loren Beach; 08-17-2006 at 09:28 PM.

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